This is a 'transit visibility zone.' Aliens living in it might be able to see us.

For centuries, human beings have looked at the night sky, hoping to see aliens.

Now, a group of scientists is trying to find out where aliens would have to be in order to see us.

Researchers from universities in the U.K. and Germany have identified nine planets that are "ideally placed" for their resident astronomers to detect Earth using the same methods Earth stargazers use to detect them, according to a new paper published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.


The astronomers looked for planets on which observers could view Earth's transit across the sun — the period where, from their perspective, our planet moves in front of its home star, causing it to dim slightly.

An illustration of where an extraterrestrial observer would have to be to notice one of the planets in our solar system passing in front of the sun. Image by 2MASS/A. Mellinger/R. Wells.

The study builds on the work of astrophysicist Rene Heller, who proposed the idea that intelligent extraterrestrial life located in these "transit visibility zones" might already know about Earth in a paper published last year in the journal Astrobiology.

"We've expanded on this by including all of the solar system planets and looking at the known and expected exoplanets in these regions," study lead author Robert Wells, a Queen's University Belfast Ph.D. student, says.

The work was made possible by the revival of the Kepler space telescope, which malfunctioned and was nearly left for dead in 2013.

Instead, engineers used sunlight pressure to stabilize the stellar eye later that year. It has since discovered more than 500 exoplanets — joining the more than 2,300 total detected in the telescope's eight-year run.

A digital illustration of a gas giant planet and moon discovered by Kepler. Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt via Getty Images.

The next challenge? Finding where ET might actually be listening for that call.

None of the planets identified in the paper have the conditions to support life. The researchers expect to discover more worlds in the prime Earth-viewing zone in the coming months.

"Our hope is to find some planets which are potentially habitable and can see transits of Earth, which I think will be the best targets for SETI," Wells says.

Here's hoping when do we track our galactic neighbors down, they're not the kind we need Will Smith to deal with.

(Thankfully, we have Will Smith — just in case.)

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

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Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

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